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ACE Spectrum

ACE Spectrum


Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.

Please join the conversation.

From a Report on a Turkish Radio Station to Stanford’s Marching Band, KALW’s Audio Academy Wins Hearts

Posted by on Feb 18, 2018 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

The week of Valentine’s Day featured a lot of lovely stories on Crosscurrents, led by Audio Academy fellows and alumni. Here’s a quick recap:

First off, Jeremy Dalmas (’14),

Açık Radyo General Manager Ömer Madra holds up a pamphlet for Açık Radyo that says “Empathy, Sacrifice For Others, Peace.” Photo by Jeremy Dalmas

our cost of living reporter, produced an enhanced conversation with our host, Hana Baba, about a specific plan around Oakland’s downtown. Jeremy has a very engaging storytelling style, and he really shines in this format.

He’s also a terrific reporter. In the fall, he traveled to Turkey for a few months, and he brought back a profile of a Turkish radio station which provided a lot of perspective on freedom, repression, independence, and the power of communication. Really powerful, lovely, heartfelt story.

DJ QBert in front of his stacks. Photo by Bo Walsh.

Current Audio Academy fellow Bo Walsh had a couple pieces air this week as well, and how about that! First, he booked DJ QBert, a famous scratchmaster who grew up in the Excelsior District, just over the hill, and went to Balboa High in the SFUSD.Take a listen to the “Bay Area Beats” segment Bo produced out of that interview.

Then, Bo crafted an extraordinary exploration of the infamous Stanford Marching Band That story has a real flow to it, I learned quite a bit – though some of it wasn’t so pretty! The piece was popular with the audience, too, getting bunches of calls as an “Audiograph” segment.

We also had an unprecedented and cool combo, this week, taking advantage of what was actually a scheduling mistake to give a behind-the-scenes look at how we make radio. On World Radio Day – Tuesday – after Jeremy’s Turkish radio piece, we aired two interpretations of the same 45 minute StoryCorps interview. (It turned out that two Audio Academy fellows, Marisol Medina Cadena and Amber Miles, accidentally received the same assignment.) We liked what they each did with the edit, so Hana spoke with them both, on the air, about how they made their editorial choices.  Check out the segment – it worked out really well!

This week, too, we highlighted other students’ perspectives in a few different ways.

One of our Audio Academy mentors, Raquel Maria Dillon, edited a story by UC Berkeley student Sawsan Morrar about planting acorns in fire-ravaged North Bay regions. It earned this nice email note from a listener who said she grew up in San Francisco in the 1930s and 40s:

“You all do such a great job. I look forward to your program every morning and evening. I loved the one about acorns this morning.”

The FLY girls (First Love Yourself) of Oakland’s McClymonds High School. Tamia Holmes, 16, is second from left. Dalaijah White, 16, is seated in center with orange scarf. Standing behind her is Naje’e McDonald, 17. Gianna Smith, 17 is second from right. Photo by Lee Romney.

Also, our education reporter, Lee Romney, produced a collection of personal conversations with African American teenagers in Oakland who have experienced issues with sexual harassment. It was very upsetting to hear these stories, and so brave of these girls to talk. We followed the segment with a solutions-oriented conversation with a woman helping provide support and education within the Oakland Unified School District. Voices need to be heard!


It’s my pleasure to give a shout out to Hannah Kingsley-Ma (’15), our daily line producer, who is being honored as a participant in an intensive learning experience as a resident at Third Coast in Chicago . Check out the crew she’ll be learning with (and Hannah is just right of center in the pic):

Podcaster Anna Sale is surrounded by the Thursday KALW News team. Photo by Truc Nguyen (’16)



Finally, esteemed podcast producer Anna Sale, who makes Death, Sex, and Money for WNYC, came by to talk with KALW’s Rose Aguilar on Your Call. Anna dropped by to visit the newsroom and told me, “I love Crosscurrents! I wish it were a national show.” Check out the picture I’ve attached of her with our Thursday news department lineup.

Good stuff all around.

Mid-Year Update – Oakland International High School Creates ACE Learning Center Success

Posted by on Feb 14, 2018 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Martha Sessums, President, ACE

ACE Learning Center at OIHS.

Mid-school year, it’s always great to see how well an ACE Learning Center is doing. Getting its stride. Staying steady. Turning out impressive success stats. Being a place that is part of the beat of the school.

Each ACE Learning Center is required to provide a January report, and reading the Oakland International High School (OIHS) report is one of the leading examples of how well it works with a strong educational partner.

Parent classes – ✔Check.

Working with Refugee Transitions, the ACE Learning Center teaches English to 51 regularly attending students from 11 countries. Two levels of classes meet for over two hours a day Monday – Thursday. Parents learn basics like reading a STOP sign to learning how to communicate with teachers about their children and filling out forms.

Success rate in Level 1 Classes: 78% of students make language gains, while 35% make significant gains.

Success rate in Level 2 Classes: 82% of students make language gains, while 52% make significant gains. And over 90% pass the oral exam.

Internship Program – ✔Check

Genesys Internship program has 12 students that are working at companies like BART, PG&E, Kaiser Permanente and others. There are 58 students at KDOL Video Production. At the end of the year, students who pass the summative assessment will earn 3 units of community college credits at Laney College.

Community College Classes – ✔Check

A pilot continuing education program with Peralta Community College shows great success. Focusing on English and math skills, the classes provide an expectation of what is required in college-level education. Last semester, 12 students finished ESL classes and 41 completed Elementary Algebra. This semester, it’s more of the same. The classes have helped eliminate the barrier of remedial coursework before students are eligible for transfer level classes.

As Sailaja Suresh, Director, OIHS Learning Lab said, “These classes are creating a bridge for our students to enter into credit-bearing math and English classes upon graduation from our school.”

SIFE Math – ✔Check

Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) have a large challenge. These are students with limited and/or interrupted time in school. Because of war. Famine. Illness. Life in an immigration camp. Moving from one country to another, a trip that takes months, not hours. The future – and success in that future – can be a challenge. Math included.

Success Rate: Serves 43 students in grades 9 and 10. There’s that bridge again.

College Literacy – ✔Check

Literacy supports community.

Literacy can start in the community. Partnering with researchers from Stanford and CSU East Bay, OIHS students are investigating how to become better community members by using literacy as the lead. They work with elementary school students at a nearby school and read social justice-themed books with the younger students.

Success: All students appreciate taking a leadership position when sharing and teaching reading skills. Even elementary students.

Lab School – ✔Check

Five student teachers are on OIHS campus from Mills College, UC Berkeley and St. Mary’s, along with Reach Institute. This is continuing education for the student teachers who are part of the future Newcomer teachers in the Oakland Unified School District.

Success: High school students meet college students. On campus. Both can see their future.

“The ACE Adult Learning Center continues to be an active hub on campus for parent learning and school engagement,” said Suresh.

ACE can’t ask for much more. Thank you OIHS.

Impact of KALW Audio Academy Stories Grows, Including New Solano Prison Storytelling Program

Posted by on Feb 5, 2018 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

The Audio Academy‘s impact is growing on KALW, its audience, and an increasingly greater public. This week provided some nice cases in point:

Gig Car Share car on the streets of San Francisco.

– KALW’s Transportation Reporter Eli Wirtschafter (’16) put together an enhanced Q and A with Crosscurrents host Hana Baba about the expansion of the borrowing economy and how transportation options are transforming in the Bay Area.



Church band play at Civic Center in Walk for Life.

– Audio Academy fellow Amber Miles (’18) aired a story on Crosscurrents bringing together a wide variety of perspectives on abortion from weekend demonstrations.





San Francisco residents march for housing.

– KALW Housing and Homelessness Reporter Liza Veale (’15) pulled together a well-considered piece about what late Mayor Ed Lee‘s legacy around housing in San Francisco will be.




– Audio Academy fellow Asal Ehsanipour (’18) aired her first feature: a long and sound-rich Audiograph about our local Alemany Farmer’s Market, the oldest in California.



As News Director, I can say that the experience we’ve gained training all kinds of people within our Audio Academy and related programs has led us to expand our teaching horizons. Our next endeavor will be at Solano State Prison, where we’re about to launch the Solano Prison Storytelling Program. Eli has been leading a team that includes Hannah Kingsley-Ma (’15), Audio Academy mentor Andrew Stelzer, and former summer trainee and current KQED reporter Jessica Placzek. We’ve got all of our equipment purchased and brought to the prison, now, and it’s just a matter of that gear getting processed before we start working directly with inmates at our second prison.

It’s pretty wonderful to see ripples like that extend from the Audio Academy, and they’re happening all the time with individual graduates. Truc Nguyen (’16) is now a significant part of KALW’s development department alongside Chris Hambrick (’15), and she’s now overseeing the local music curation for Crosscurrents. Liz Mak (’14), who graduated with our first class, is currently working with the nationally syndicated Snap Judgment. And this coming Tuesday, we’ll be airing a story she made about a senior at Mission High School who emigrated from El Salvador. Also, I just heard that her Audio Academy classmate, David Boyer (’14), is nearly finished with a new chapter of The Intersection about how Google‘s growth affected Mountain View and the entire Peninsula.

It’s wonderful to see all that sophisticated work happening, and truly joyful when you can see it get started as we did this week with Asal’s first story. Keep listening!